Age 90 Farmer Falls 26′ Into Well after Floor Crumbles Under His Feet. Panicked Daughter Calls 911


Ernie Silva, 90, lives on a ranch his family bought back in the 1930s.

Behind the one-acre property is a well, which Ernie uses mostly to grow the vegetables in his garden.

His family dug the 4-and-a-half-foot wide well by hand and reinforced it with brick.

On Saturday, the 90-year-old farmer went out to the well to turn the pump on. But when he reached out to flip the switch on, the ground suddenly caved in.

He fell nearly 26 feet down into the water at the bottom of the well.

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Less than an hour later, Ernie’s daughter realized he hadn’t returned from the garden. Soon, she discovered him in the bottom of the well and called 911.

Ernie had survived the fall, and had been treading water for as long as he could while calling out for help. He then propped himself against the walls to keep from sinking.

“I put my feet against that wall and my back against this wall and put pressure so I wouldn’t sink,” he explained.

Firefighters arrived and came up with a plan to get him out safely. First, they lowered a rescuer down into the well with a safety jacket for Ernie.

Then they took off the top of the pump house and lowered down a rope from the ladder truck.

After another hour, six firefighters began lifting Erie out, pulling the rope by hand.

“We used man power to do it because you want to do it nice and slow to get him out in a vertical position,” explained Battalion Chief Gary Ashley.

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Ernie was taken to the hospital for hyperthermia and received eight stitches for a cut on his head. Thankfully, he is now safe at home and recovering from the scary situation.

He said he is eager to get back out and tend to his garden, but perhaps he’ll consider using a garden hose from now on.

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Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
Liz was a senior story editor for The Western Journal.
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